May 7, 2010 in City

Former WSU quarterback receiving third degree this weekend

By The Spokesman-Review
TYLER TJOMSLAND Special to The Spokesman Review photo

Washington State Universtity doctoral student Paul Mencke holds his son Paul Jr. and his wife, Bernadette, holds their newborn son, Carter, at WSU. Mencke will graduate from WSU on Saturday with a doctorate in cultural studies and social thought in education. Along the way, the Spokane native has Bachelor of Arts degrees in education and history and a master’s in business administration. Special to The Spokesman Review
(Full-size photo)


Washington State University, 8 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. Saturday, Beasley Performing Arts Coliseum, Pullman

Washington State University Spokane, undergraduate, graduate and doctoral commencement, 2 p.m. Friday, INB Performing Arts Center

Gonzaga University, graduate school commencement, 5 p.m. Saturday at McCarthey Athletic Center; undergraduate commencement, 10 a.m. Sunday, Spokane Arena, 720 W. Mallon Ave.

Whitworth University, graduate commencement, 10 a.m. May 15 at the Cowles Memorial Auditorium; undergraduate commencement, 3 p.m. May 16, Spokane Arena, 720 W. Mallon Ave.

North Idaho College, 10 a.m. May 14, Christianson Gym, 1000 W. Garden Ave., Coeur d’Alene

Eastern Washington University, undergraduate and graduate commencement, June 11, Woodward Field, Cheney

Spokane Falls Community College, 3:30 p.m. June 18, Spokane Falls Stadium, 3410 W. Fort George Wright Drive

Spokane Community College, 4 and 7:30 p.m. June 21, INB Performing Arts Center, 334 W. Spokane Falls Blvd., Spokane

Institute of Extended Learning, Adult Basic Education, 3:30 and 6 p.m. June 16 at Spokane Community College, Walter S. Johnson Sports Center gymnasium, 1810 N. Greene St.

Also today

Graduations: A list of dates and times for commencement ceremonies at area colleges and universities/A14

When Paul Mencke gets his doctorate Saturday at Washington State University, the Spokane native will breathe a sigh of relief.

During the past year, he and his wife, Bernadette, have both attended graduate school while she worked full time and he worked part-time. They have a 4-year-old and their second son, Carter, was born less than two weeks ago.

“It’s been challenging,” Mencke said. But the couple has been together since their junior year in high school and are best friends. “That helped.”

Mencke was chosen as one of WSU’s 14 standout students among 2,300 graduates walking during this weekend’s commencement ceremonies.

WSU and Gonzaga are the first of the area universities to celebrate their graduates, with ceremonies on Saturday and Sunday. Whitworth University’s graduations will take place May 15 and 16, while Eastern Washington University and Community Colleges of Spokane’s three institutions are planning June ceremonies.

WSU’s colleges were asked to nominate students whose stories they wanted to highlight during commencement ceremonies, said WSU spokeswoman Maria Ortega. Mencke was nominated by Dawn Shinew, an associate professor of teaching and learning at the College of Education.

This will be Mencke’s third commencement at WSU. This time, the former Cougar quarterback is getting a doctorate in cultural studies and social thought in education. In other words, the study of how inequalities impact a classroom.

“Most curriculums are set in a white, middle-class type of knowledge, so who does that leave out?” Mencke said.

The Lewis and Clark High School graduate said his dream job would be as “a professor teaching about race, class and gender within education.”

Menke, 33, first attended WSU in 1996. He completed a double major with degrees in history and education in 2000, but then decided to go for a master’s in business administration. Besides playing football, he played on the university’s basketball team in his senior year.

“When I talked about education, no one thought it was cool, to be honest,” he said. “So I went with what society thought was a good idea. Then when I went and did business, I realized that didn’t fit with my personality.”

Mencke used his business degree to sell medical supplies in Tacoma, but after four years he could no longer deny his passion for education.

His wife, who graduated from University High School in Spokane Valley, feels the same way. Her doctorate – she’s expected to graduate in December – is in higher education. Her dream job would be as a dean or president at a university.

Mencke isn’t sure where his family will land. “Life can be good wherever you are at,” he said. “You just have to make it good.”

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